I made a point of watching the telecast of the Olympics tonight. I watched the whole darn thing, including the entire procession of the 204 countries. (I’ll need to research someday why it is that Puerto Rico, Guam, the Marshall Islands, and other territories compete as their own countries. If Puerto Rico is a separate country, why do we bother having Presidential primaries there?) Bob Costas was awestruck by the show the Chinese put on, and I was, too. This was far more entertaining than any Super Bowl halftime show. All politics aside, the Chinese put on an exquisite, creative, bold, and spectacular show for the world.
I made a point of watching because I heard that perhaps half of the world’s 6 billion would be watching, and it’s nice to have some sort of common connection with half of the world. One-fifth of humanity lives in China. There’s something to be said for focusing on that mind-numbing fact for a couple of hours. If you watch the parade of nations, you also appreciate that the U.S. only represents about 5% of humanity, and you appreciate just how big and how small the world is. NBC wisely avoided any cutesy perkiness in its anchoring of the ceremonies (so glad there’s no more Katie Couric chirping about), instead having the brilliant Bob Costas paired with seasoned world-traveler Matt Lauer, and even more wisely, adding an expert on Chinese culture. There was enough wit to prevent the broadcast from turning into a dull geography lesson, I thought. Most importantly, I was glad that NBC, with the exception of its sponsors’ commericals, mostly focused on China and the global community instead of making it all about USA, USA, like it has done in the past. (Ugh, two weeks of McDonald’s brainwashing a new generations of kids into thinking that McDonald’s and fitness go hand-in-hand).
It’s fine and Yankee-doodle-dandy and all to root for Americans to win lots of medals. But I hate when Olympics coverage turns into the simple storyline of “USA versus The World” in which we’re only supposed to care about the American athletes. Olympics coverage tends to encourage the American arrogance that many Americans love to embrace but many around the world are repelled by (and liberal, France-loving, America-hating Democrats like myself).
Local news coverage is the worst. You send reporters all the way to China, and they report back to you about how the American athletes like it over there and how you can find a Pizza Hut. You could stay home and tell the same stories. What about the rest of the world? What about these athletes from those African countries where they all dress funny? What’s up with that? What’s up judo, and why is it that half of the 204 countries seem to have a judo…judoer…judo player…judo athlete as their flag-bearer? Tell me about judo, because I want to know why it’s so popular everywhere else but not here. And I need to know what you call someone who does judo. I see Lebron James all over the damn place year-after-year. Frankly, I don’t really need to see close-ups of him every 5 minutes.
For 3 years and 50 weeks, we get to fawn all over our American athletes. For 2 weeks every 4 years, would it be too much to ask to think about the rest of the world?
There’s my rant.
The way they lit the cauldron was awesome, by the way. And Yao Ming and the little earthquake hero was a nice touch.
George W. Bush couldn’t look more disinterested if you had flashed him a PDB that said “Bin Laden Determined to Attack”.
This “gotta have” title was a bit of stretch. No more of those unless there’s a really obvious one.